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Aerating Zoysia


LawnSite Member
I'm not real familiar with Zoysia care. We have mostly tall fescue here in Central N.C. Is it okay to aerate zoysia now ? Customer also wants to overseed with rye. Is the timing good to do this now ? Do I aerate just like I would a fescue yard ? I use a Ryan 20" core aerator. Thanks.


LawnSite Senior Member
South West PA
Just make sure that you run those plugs out before going on a normal cool season lawn or you will have some unhappy customers in a few years.

It can be argued that the customer can get whatever they are willing to pay for. That said, why do they want to overseed zoysia with rye? What variety of zoysia is it? Are they thinking annual rye or perennial? Do they just want their turf to be green during the "off season"? How long (inches) have you been cutting the zoysia? Using a reel or rotary mower?

Be assured that that you're looking at some serious prep to get zoysia ready for overseeding & weekly maintenance once the rye germinates.

Rye could smother the zoysia if you get it going before the grass (zoysia) really goes dormant (late Oct in GA where I am). What about scalping and dethatching the zoysia next spring?

Said all that to say there are a lot of problems (and $$) with overseeding zoysia especially if you lose sight of what's going to be happening next year. My comments are based on having 20 yrs. experience with Emerald Zoysia and believe me I've done everything to it at one time or another.

If it's green the customer wants what about a green turf paint? I've done it several times over the years and it just breaks all the fescue grass owners' hearts. Just put a good cut on it around Thanksgiving and then paint your pants off.




LawnSite Member
Thanks Chris,
Again, I'm not too familiar with zoysia. Most of our grass is tall fescue. This is a one time aerating and overseed job for the customer. They simply want me to aerate and overseed with annual rye so they will have grass in the winter. Is now the best time to aerate and overseed with rye ? I aerated another zoysia yard yesterday, no overseeding.


LawnSite Fanatic
Memphis, TN
The zoysia in my personal lawn is so thick, that it would be almost impossible to get the rye seed started. Two things:

1. Zoysia has potential to be heavier in thatch, so the dead rye plants just add to that.

2. Zoysia is a very thick growing grass that usually will smoother everything else out of its way.

Agree that zoysia is a very dense growing grass. While I would not recommend doing it if the customer insists then I would do the following (charge accordingly and add lots of disclaimers). If the zoysia has been cut "long" (2") cutting it significantly below that will expose the soil surface (depending on your mower it may take several cuts to get it that level). The danger here is you could get some root damage if you get a sudden cold snap and the rye can't provide a protective layer and you won't really know it until next spring when it is REALLY slow to come out of dormancy. Plan on another scalping and dethatching in the spring to severly damage the rye. Continuing to cut it low until it's growing steadily will help it to crowd out the rye which can't take the close cuts.

For about the same amount of money and a WHOLE LOT less work there's always the paint option. I promise not to mention it again but check it out for more FYI. Consider the margin too. I would try to sell it on the basis of it doing no harm/damage to the "very expensive zoysia" and you can have it as green as he wants it. Plus you can build some customer loyalty with just a "stop by and touch-up" service visit ever so often.

Does your customer have a sprinkler system? If not, that might be a good early spring add-on and the grass will grow over any installation routes.